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Sports immigration has some unique aspects that make it different from regular immigration. This makes it an exciting area to work in but also means that it comes with its own challenges.

The clients involved, usually athletes or coaches, are quite often world-class and require a more specific service than the average business traveller. Their timelines can often prove challenging, with work visas and permits needing to be secured rapidly or for a specific time period. They also may be travelling with a team and other personnel who attend to various needs such as nutrition, and mindset. But even when a visa applicant is well known, it doesn’t mean their visa will be processed faster, so careful planning is involved to ensure their sporting event or events, their flights, and their visa timing all align.

Using our experience working on a variety of Australian sports immigration cases across a number of sports, we wanted to share some of the idiosyncrasies that we have experienced and give examples of how we have addressed past immigration challenges.

Let’s dive in.

Three things to keep in mind when processing Australian visas for athletes

When discussing immigration law, people usually think of employer-sponsored visas that allow professionals to move to a new country to work in an office or at another workplace for a fixed duration. However, when it comes to athletes, the process is often more complex due to the nature of their work.

Athletes are required to have a visa to participate in sporting events and need to arrive at their destination border with the proper documentation. However, the intricacies of their employment can make the immigration process more case-by-case than streamlined. Unlike traditional employment visas, where the employer is the primary sponsor, in sports immigration, the athlete is the focus, and their unique circumstances must be considered. For example, athletes need to be present to train with their coach before the sporting event takes place, they need time to recover from jet lag and overall require a stress-free experience to focus on the competition.

So, successfully navigating the immigration process for a sports league, team, or athlete requires careful attention to detail and a few key considerations. Here are a few things to keep in mind when processing sports visas:

Sporting events typically have tight deadlines

While employment visas are often filed for jobs that last several months or years, visas for sporting events are typically for events that last only a few weeks or days, and in some cases, just a few hours. Due to the temporary nature of sporting events, visas for athletes, coaches, and other team members may need to be processed quickly and efficiently to ensure they can participate in the event without delay.

Things can change last minute

Details related to sporting events can often change at the last minute. For example, a new location for a tennis tournament may need to be chosen due to a weather change, or the start time of a boxing match may shift. Prize money may fluctuate due to changes in sponsorship agreements. These changes contrast traditional work visas, typically involving settled salaries, fixed office locations, and less overall fluctuation. Due to the dynamic nature of sports events, working in sports immigration means you have to be prepared to adapt quickly to changes to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Applicants often require a more white-glove service

Athletes and their staff are typically accustomed to a high level of service, especially regarding administrative tasks that are ancillary to their primary work. Regarding sports immigration, it’s essential that athletes and their teams feel that all aspects of travel to another country for a sporting event are being taken care of to the same standard of care they are used to. This may involve providing bespoke support, being available at all times leading up to the event, and communicating with clients in non-legal, easily understandable terms.

Australian sports immigration can be exciting as well as challenging. Here’s our experience

In sports immigration, you never know who you are going to be working with or meeting when you’re at a game. It’s not just challenging, it can sometimes be incredibly exciting to be involved with such a dynamic and ever-changing industry.

We experienced something recently that made us grateful that we’re so personally involved in sports and sports immigration. After attending Game 3 of the NBL23 Championship, we were approached by a sports entertainment announcer who offered us all-inclusive courtside tickets to the final game (Game 5), which allowed us to get up close and personal with the athletes and experience the amazing atmosphere in a way we haven’t before.

Not only did we have a great time, but we also made another connection with the sports industry. The serendipitous timing is amazing because we recently launched our new service to support athletes and their teams with their immigration processes.

Gilton Valeo can help support athletes who need Australian work visas

If you’re a sports league, team, athlete, or support staff, you need immigration attorneys who understand your work and can support you the way you need. Because we have a passion for sporting events and immigration, we attend many events together as a team and offer a uniquely personalised service. We are always available and present for your needs.

Gilton Valeo has a wide network of specialists that we can call on to make sure everything runs smoothly, even outside of visa processing, for example making sure you and your team receive your preferred flight booking. Paired with our efficient processes and cutting-edge practice management technology, we take the overwhelm out of sports immigration.

We know that athletes don’t have time to collate documents to process a visa, and want to focus on their training and preparation. So, we provide a one-stop shop for all your sports visa needs, where you can upload your documents effortlessly, through our sports-specific practice Sports Visa Lawyers.

Gilton Valeo can answer your questions about Australia’s immigration system

As experts in Australian immigration, Gilton Valeo can guide you in identifying the best immigration pathways to bring people over to start your Australian office, provide you with strategic consulting along the way, and connect you with our partners to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Check out everything we offer on our website, or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter!